@Kirsten (linked to the research project you were talking about on the governance of the commons) and @serenity, but I think it can interest everyone… And I guess at some point we can invite Michel Bawens in the discussion.
I had an amazing talk at the OuiShare Summit with Primavera de Filipi and Matan Field, who co-founded Backfeed (http://backfeed.cc/). "Backfeed develops foundational tools for Decentralized Collaborative Organizations, syncing the spontaneous actions of millions of people to promote an era of collaboration and decentralized value production."
It’s not easy to explain, and a bit technical, and I’m not an expert of blockchain technologies… so before I go further please read the two summary documents they sent me:
They are launching the first version of their protocol this July, and they are looking for organizations to test their beautiful concept… and it seems to me that OFN could be a great candidate, and that what they propose could open new doors to solve some of our challenges and open the path to build a truly decentralized organization.
They are going to send me a description adapted to the OFN case, and I see them again on the 20th July to design a use-case for OFN and see “what it could look like”. Of course we can plan a hangout at the same time if some of you are interested to participate in real time to that conversation.
I’ll try to explain in simple words what could be the potential of this project for OFN.
##A holonic structure
The protocol is based on “holons”,a holon being “something that is simultaneously a whole and a part”. In our case, OFN global would be a holon, each OFN local also, each hub also.
Incentivization tools and reputation as two funding parameters
So basically, they are building a protocol, to enable organizations to grow organically while gathering contributions on a fully open mode. To make an analogy, they are applying the model of open source software to organizations: a community gathers around a project, people start contributing because they believe in the project, and at some point, given the rule we decide, the contributors can be retributed with a complementary currency (=tokens) issued by the community itself. The protocol also includes a “reputation” parameter, that every contributor will build both by its contributions, and its capacity to evaluate fairly others’contributions.
So there are basically two parameters: incentivization (give tokens to contributors) and reputation.
If at some point the organization goes in a direction that some members of the community don’t agree, they can “fork” the organization.
It’s very abstract, of course… but I’ll explain now how concretly we could use it.
How it can support OFN organization design and development
We are at a stage of the development where we need lots of contributions (from developers, community builders, etc.) but we don’t have money to pay the people. But we believe of the future value of the project, we believe its gonna be very useful for the communities all over the world. While using backfeed, we could “reward” the contribution with “tokens”, the internal complementary currency we will issue ourselves and that can be used only within the community. When someone buy food through a hub, they actually buy tokens and use the tokens to buy to the hubs. The hubs keep some tokens (its markup) and pay the suppliers in tokens. The hubs and suppliers can of course then convert the tokens in the local currency whenever they want. So basically we become our own central bank. The interesting thing is that everyone buy food, so its a good point for the “liquidity” of the tokens. So for example, a producer who has been paid can of course convert its tokens in the local official currency, but he can also use them to buy some other products in the system. Liquidity is of course a challenge, as we have more tokens than “official money” in circulation. But there are ways to build a well-functionning model (I have not yet fully understood everything, I will update the post when I understand better)
The very interesting thing is that appart from that question of contribution/retribution, we can also define rules to operate a fully decentralize governance of the project. Every contributor has a “reputation” in the system, and the more they gain in reputation, the more their voice coin in the decision making process of their “holon”. That prevent the system to be ruled by newcomers, and ensure that the organization grows around shared values.
So basically, that “protocol” takes into account both the governance and the economic model, by using an internal system of “value accounting”.
I am very careful about the fact that we don’t go in a system where every contribution will be counted, to preserve that natural willingness to give and I don’t want to live in a world where everything is counted. But it seems that any model can be designed in this protocol, and Primavera really shared my “humanistic” concerns. So let’s see… but it seems super exciting just to see how this new blockchain technology can help more broadly in building decentralized organizations for the common good.
To see an example of the first organization that will adopt backfeed, look at La’Zooz (http://lazooz.org/). OuiShare is also willing to experiment it at a project level. If at some point we are interested we could experiment at a hub level.